Audie Award, Middle Grade, 2016
Music, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this virtuosic, genre-defying tour de force from storytelling maestro Pam Muñoz Ryan.
Lost and alone in the forbidden Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica. Decades later Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each becomes interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives, binding them by an invisible thread of destiny. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. How their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.
Richly imagined and structurally innovative, Echo pushes the boundaries of form and shows us what is possible in how we tell stories. With music by Corky Siegel.
©2015 Pam Muñoz Ryan (P)2015 Scholastic Inc.
"A riveting exploration of that which destroys and that which heals." (AudioFile)
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"One of the best audio productions I have heard"
Not only is this a magical story about a harmonica involving multiple storylines, but this is one of the best produced audiobooks I have ever heard.
There is music everywhere and directly related to the plot. You hear harmonica, cello, piano and even a vocal rendition of Sone Enchanted Evening. I don't know what kind of mouth harp that was but it had a beautiful sound. Sounded like a tremolo harp.
These interconnected stories are about the magic of music and the love of family to overcome the most terrifying obstacles, including Hitler's Germany.
I wish there were more audiobooks like this. I feel like I have just returned from an incredible journey.
Ryan has written a story that is parrt fantasy, part historical fiction - all wonderful.
If you have the chance - listen to the audio version of this book. The inclusion of the harmonica music brings the story to life.
Also, any age would enjoy this book. It would be an excellent choice for a family to listen to together.
"THIS is storytelling!"
I can't even imagine reading this versus listening to it! While the story is lovely, it was the way they sprinkled it with music that made it such a special listen. The narrators were excellent and the way the stories all came together at the end was perfect. Listening to this was like a night out at the theatre.
Echo was written for late pre-teens and early teens. It is perfect for its target audience, but most adults will also enjoy it immensely. There are 4 stories and four main characters woven together with music being the common theme. If ever a book were written for the audiobook format, Echo is that book. Echo is sure to become a classic.
"One of the best!"
Our family listened to this book on a summer road trip. It was fantastic and exceeded our expectations. The reading and music elements made the story come alive. The storylines sticks with you with characters kids can look up to.
"A Wonderful Story"
My 12 year old son and I listened to this story over the course of a month only while riding in the car. This is an epic tale that will renew your appreciation for life, we were weeping in the end. Echo was written to be heard...music is an integral part of the story and the audio book adds the music bringing the novel to life and could be considered another character. Don't read this book, listen to it.
"You will just want to sit down, listen, enjoy."
The weaving of the stories was exceptional and pushed me to keep "going".
One for the bookshelf to re-read, etc.
Enchanting, inspiring, beautifully written and performed! For music lovers and readers/listeners young at heart. Highly recommended.
This was s lovely, warm, and enchanting book. The audio version adds such a dimension and fullness that I will recommend it to everyone. This is a gem!
"I was not enchanted"
First thing to recognize is that this is recommended for children aged 10-13. I would normally pass on a selection for this audience, but it caught my attention by promising “music, magic, and a real-life miracle”. Mark Bramhall as one of the readers was another strong selling point.
Sadly, the magic was pretty thin, serving only to set-up the three part story to come, and to wrap up at the end telling how all three stories turned out. The enchanted harmonica that passed through three children’s hands kept them loosely tied together, but I was only convinced of its magic because the author repeatedly told me to believe it.
As to the three stories – the harmonica was simply a device to give a socially conscious history lesson through dreary tales of children in very bad historic circumstances. First, Hitler’s Germany, second America’s Great Depression, third WWII America imposing Japanese internment on California citizens – which strangely is told from the perspective of the daughter of a Mexican migrant worker. The lessons were written simplistically but repetitively, hitting the same notes over and over as if the reader couldn’t have gotten the message the first time. This made it long and tedious for me as an adult, and I wonder how many kids would sit through it, especially as each segment ends in a cliffhanger, moving abruptly to the next part. The wrap up at the end was nothing short of predictable and improbable. There was no joy in these stories, I felt no genuine emotion for any of the characters because the author didn’t let me believe any of them.
Finally the music. What was supposed to be the most magical part of the story just did not work for me. The naturally mournful sound of the harmonica just added to the dreariness of the stories without infusing the hoped for emotion. I’m sorry, but when I think of a song that would wring tears from my eyes at its emotional beauty, “America the Beautiful” just doesn’t leap to mind. And if I ever have to hear “Brahms’s Lullaby” on the harmonica again, just shoot me now.
I’ll allow 3 stars for effort for the readers. They did what they could with the material. But I think the story as constructed missed its mark for its intended audience as it did for me.
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